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Professional cricket in England delayed until July
England News

Professional cricket in England delayed until July

The ECB has announced that no professional cricket will take place in England and Wales until at least July 1 as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause great havoc on the international sporting calendar.

Attempts are currently underway to formulate a plausible schedule featuring the postponed international fixtures including the West Indies tour of England and the women's series between England and India.

Additionally, England are set to host Australia and Pakistan between July and September, creating the scenario of an overabundance of matches.

To combat the issue of a clash of different fixtures, the ECB is mulling over the possibility of fielding England's Test and limited-overs outfits at the same time in order to meet the requirements of a compressed schedule.

Amidst the COVID-19 crisis that has forced global cricket to come to a halt, nine rounds of England's four-day County Championship 2020 will be lost once the domestic season commences in July.

The cash-rich T20 Blast will also be pushed back from its original starting point, which was stipulated in June.

"There will be no cricket unless it's safe to play," ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said on Friday.

"Our schedule will only go ahead if government guidance permits. Our biggest challenge, along with other sports, is how we could seek to implement a bio-secure solution that offers optimum safety and security for all concerned."

Cricket chiefs are warming up to the idea of playing behind closed doors since this will reduce the risk of spreading the virus to unsuspecting fans. Harrison hinted that the ECB was "starting to get comfortable with the idea that there won't be crowds this summer".

"If you talk about the measures the (British) government has got in place through this lockdown... probably the last lever the government is likely to pull is the one around mass gatherings and that is obviously something for us that impacts the ability to put cricket fans into stadia."

England's Professional Cricketers' Association supported the necessary precautions taken by the board to protect the players and the game in these troubling times.

Threat looms over The Hundred

There is no certainty over the future of the inaugural Hundred competition, which is deemed by the ECB as a 'game-changer' for the sport's popularity in the country.

The ECB top-brass will meet again next week to discuss the future of the tournament meant to begin in July.

Several international stars have been signed by the eight franchises taking part in The Hundred that sees a new 100-balls-per-side format.

Prospective profits earned from The Hundred are expected to safeguard the future of English cricket and bolster the first-class structure.

The ECB last month introduced a £61 million aid package in response to the unprecedented crisis triggered by the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, financial fallouts are blighting the cricket world in the absence of competitive matches, resulting in a dearth of economic opportunities for the vast body of professionals.

Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts warned this week that the organisation could lose hundreds of millions of dollars if they are unable to host India this year.